We have been tasked with researching and creating a digital image sequence as a response to Gustav Holst’s The Planets taking place in Emma Cons Hall at Morley College during the Morley Arts Festival. The animation with be projected onto a large moving canvas behind the performance and the project must be completed in time for the Festival at the end of June 2018.
I was assigned Neptune.
Neptune, The Mystic was originally scored for a piano duet however he used an organ to really convey the mystery of the planet. Harps and string melodies all contribute to the piece, and finally closing with an all female choir giving the piece it’s mystical quality.
Neptun, The Mystic by Gustav Holst:
What Does Neptune Look Like?
What is Neptune Associated With?
Neptune is named after the Roman god of the same name, who ruled over the sea. It is also the planet rule of the star sign, Pisces. It has been connected to spirituality, dreams and illusions. Neptune is often associated with the sea and water.
For our Finding and Reading Information unit, we have supported this unit by conducting in depth research into Gustav Holst and ‘The Planets’ – my further research can be found here
What & Where?
The image sequence will be compliment a live classical performance led by pianist Dimitris Karydis, playing ‘The Planets’ on a number of pianos in Emma Cons Hall at Morley College, in a performance called ‘Planets for Pianos’
Knowing that the sequence will be played in front of an audience so the visuals will have to be engaging, accessible to a wide variety of people of all ages and faiths.
Dimitris has provided links to previous performances of ‘The Planets’ suites which I will refer to and take inspiration from throughout the production process, copies of those can be found below:
This video demonstrates a performance of ‘The Planets’ with the orchestral accompaniment, although the images here are very literal representations of the planets, it is useful to get a visualisation of how the performance might look. With the accompanying visuals it is clear that they will be a significant focal piece and therefore will need to be completed to a high technical standard.
This video contains all the pieces that will be performed and how they will sound on piano. This is a valuable resource as it allows me to get a better understanding of what the performance might sound like in texture and quality and better inform my creative choices, it’s also helpful to know what Dimitris requires from us.
Resolution & Size
The animations will be projected onto a screen behind the performers, therefore the files I need to work with will have to be high resolution (ideally at 300dpi), otherwise pixellation and loss of quality might become an issue. However, I do not want to work within the aspect ratio of the projection screen as these animations will eventually be uploaded online and be used on my blog and showreel, therefore I will work in standard 1080 25 HDV.
Influences & Inspiration
Before beginning the creation of my image sequence I searched for references to gain inspiration from, sourcing videos that depict the planets and other artists depictions of ‘The Planets’. This will help inform my creative choices, and perhaps avoid repeating cliches when it comes to representing Neptune.
I like the unusual textures and movements of the spheres in this video, although the pacing is differently from my own piece of music I like the abstract feel it conveys.
This video, ‘Beyond Neptune’, has some interesting moments the constellations appearing to noticeable moments in the music. I also enjoy the simplistic lines, and pulses in rhythm to the track, elements to potentially include in my own work .
Importing & Creating Assets For Animation Sequence
Creating a Mood Board
Before beginning my animation, I sourced inspiration by visiting Morley’s gallery showcasing a textile exhibition inspired by the planets. Using Lightroom I imported as high quality jpegs and begun to create a visual representation of what Neptune might look like.
Using Photoshop, I experimented with a variety of tools to create my images, laying textures over each other and using the cut-out tools to creating interesting patterns and textures. I also changed the blending modes, (below using hard light) to give an opacity to certain layers while retaining the texture.
I used Photoshop as I am familiar with the software, am able to work with and create files at high resolutions to create my assets for the animation.
I saved my files as both Jpegs and PSD files, one so I can upload the images onto my blog (jpgs compressed for the web) and large PSD files, to retain the layers and so I can potentially use them in my animation if I need to do so in the future.
My Neptune Mood Board:
I’m working largely with blue hues and tones to replicate the physical appearance of Neptune and have used textures that hopefully mimic gas or water, the substances Neptune is made from and associated with.
Sourcing & Importing Images For The Animation
To begin, I took photos from the Morley Gallery’s textiles display, I also created my own images from scanned images and photos taken for the brief. I used Lightroom to import my photos to begin editing and creating my animation. I made sure to import the images at high resolutions, 300 dpi, to ensure a good quality for the animation and avoid pixelating or blurring. I imported the assets into a file system to easily navigate during the production of my animation.
Creating Images For The Animation
I wanted to create some unusual textures for my animation, so I sourced some materials from home and scanned them into my computer, I made sure to scan at a high resolution of 300dpi to ensure quality and avoid any loss of detail when it comes to projecting these images onto a large screen.
I repeated this process several more times with a variety of different materials, keeping in mind the style and look I want to evoke in creating my visual representation of Neptune. Choosing shimmery, reflective and water like textures that I will then import into Photoshop and manipulate.
Manipulating in Photoshop
I imported my scans into Photoshop where I started using the selection tool to roughly cut out the background behind the texture, I’m not concerned with making the edges perfect or smooth as I will be further distorting the image both in Photoshop and Aftereffects to create surreal and spacey looking animations.
I imported an image over my texture and applied an overlay to blend the two images while still retaining the texture of the original scan.
As the image is too purple for my Neptune inspired colour scheme, so I adjusted the levels and curves until I was satisfied with the colour enhancement.
The final result is a shimmery, water-like image that hopefully conveys the essence of Neptune’s atmosphere.
I export the image into my assets folder, ensuring I have saved it at 300dpi to ensure the best possible quality as it will be projected onto a large screen.